For many, as much as happiness and joy are part of the holiday season, stress and anxiety also may be present. Some anxiety may be caused by regret about the past and what could have been. Kathryn Shulz, a journalist, and author, focused on regret in a 2011 TED talk that I think is relevant as we approach the new year.
Ms. Shulz’s talk revolved around her own regret about a tattoo she had gotten in her late 20s and how she almost instantly regretted that decision. She noted that to have regret requires two things. The first is agency. You have to have made a decision, which may be a decision to act or not to act. Second, you need imagination as you need to be able to consider how a different decision might have changed your life.
The main point was that we need to make peace with regret, and she had ideas about how we can help ourselves deal with our regrets. We should take comfort in knowing that making bad decisions is a universal human experience. If possible, we should have a sense of humor about our mistakes. Maybe not immediately, but at some point. The term “Reply All” makes me shudder and chuckle at the same time. I’m guessing some of you have been there as well. Finally, we should “love the flawed imperfect things we create and forgive ourselves for creating them. Regret doesn’t remind us that we did badly. It reminds us that we know we can do better.”
In looking forward to the new year and all that it will bring, good and bad, I hope we all can use our regrets in a positive manner to help us grow as people and become who we want to be. Happy new year.
This week’s selection is:
How to Build a Happy Life
Your one-stop shop for building stronger relationships, understanding emotions, and developing practical skills to make the journey to happiness a little bit easier.